The high-tech colourless yet traceable liquid has been issued to selected premises across the ‘Steel City’ so that door staff can tag anyone involved in serious offences.
It will be used in venues from this Friday (21 June) in a partnership between South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield BID (Business Improvement District).
Under the scheme, security staff at 25 premises in the city centre, including Sheffield Hallam Students' Union and The University of Sheffield, have been training and issued with the liquid.
According to Sheffield BID sergeant Matt Burdett each tube of SmartWater has a unique chemical code meaning that anyone sprayed with it can be traced back to the specific incident during which it was used.
“If a person involved in disorder is sprayed by door staff, the SmartWater on their clothes or skin can be linked back to that incident, proving they were present and involved,” Burdett explained.
“Our officers and custody suites are equipped with ultraviolet lights to check for traces of the solution.
“This product, along with footage from body-worn cameras, can be really helpful when establishing the background to an incident.”
Creating a desirable place
“A major part of our work at Sheffield BID is to help attract more people to the city centre, both in the day and into the evening,” Sheffield BID manager Diane Jarvis explained.
“We boast some great social venues, bars and pubs in Sheffield, and it’s important that we make them a welcoming and friendly environment for everyone to enjoy.
“When people come for a night out, we want them to feel safe, well looked after and to have a fantastic time.
“We work very closely with all the major authorities in the city centre to help improve it and make it a desirable place for both residents and visitors.
“We are delighted to be able to support South Yorkshire Police with the implementation of SmartWater in night-time venues and are sure that this innovative tool will have a positive influence on violent behaviour in the future.”
Reserved for serious incidents
Detective chief inspector Lee Berry, force lead for Sheffield’s Operation Shield added that the use of SmartWater will be subject to strict regulation.
“Unfortunately, some people do come into our city centre, intent on causing trouble, I want this to be a deterrent to those individuals,” he explained.
“This new initiative has potential to disrupt criminality on lots of different levels, from alcohol-related disorder to knife-enabled crime.
“Staff will only be using SmartWater in serious incidents, not just in any scenario where there is a confrontation. Sheffield BID and South Yorkshire Police will be monitoring when and how the solution is being used and keeping track of how useful it is and how often it’s being deployed.
“This is a really innovative use of SmartWater, it’s already been tested in several locations, including West Yorkshire, and we’re confident it will be a useful tool for venues in Sheffield.”
Tackling street drinking
SmartWater has been previously deployed in Yorkshire by Bradford BID and North Yorkshire police to tackle the issue of street drinking.
Bradford’s scheme, which uses the liquid to trace where disorderly drinkers are buying high-strength alcohol, beer and lager with an ABV of 6.5% or above, was launched on 14 June following a successful trial in Wakefield, where it was shown to reduce street drinking by 60%.
The launch of the programme in Bradford saw participating retailers mark their stock of high-strength alcohol with the liquid to create a unique forensic code and thereby link the premises to alcohol sold over its counter.